The long-awaited THE FLASH was worth the wait. It’s the best story in the DCU so far: Well written, acted, and directed (by Andy Muschietti). It also has some of the worst CGI I’ve seen in a movie since 2002’s THE SCORPION KING. I mean, REALLY, REALLY bad. I hope the version I saw wasn’t complete because it’s incredibly jarring how bad it is. Most of the special effects are fine. I’d argue there are a bit too many, but I know DC movies love their f/x. As long as they’re good, I’m good. For a film of this scale, they should be better. I write this review a little less than a month before the movie premieres in theatres to a wider audience. Fingers crossed that it gets fixed. Now onto the review.

I personally know a lot of folks who won’t pay to see this movie due to all the shit Ezra Miller has gotten themselves into over the last few years and the people they’ve hurt and abused. I don’t blame them because I’m one of them. I jumped at a chance for an early free screening so I didn’t have to pay for it. Miller is an incredibly talented actor. The first film I saw them in was THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER in 2012. Since then, with the exception of the first two FANTASTIC BEAST films, the only role I’ve seen them do is Barry Allen/The Flash from the DC Universe. Miller’s depiction of Barry/Flash is very different than Grant Gustin’s in CW’s THE FLASH or any of the DC animated films or the one-season 1990 series. Your enjoyment of 2023’s THE FLASH will depend on if you like this version of the character or not. It’s completely consistent with Miller’s portrayal in both JUSTICE LEAGUE and ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE, so if you didn’t enjoy it then, you probably won’t now. 

If you did like their portrayal like me, I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did. This Barry Allen is sillier and quirkier, but he’s still Barry: an incredibly intelligent young man trying to juggle the double life of police department forensics scientist and being a member of The Justice League. THE FLASH successfully delivers a superhero origin story for a hero we’ve already gotten to know a little bit on the big screen. It also works as a Batman movie too. Many of the film’s best parts revolved around the world’s greatest detective. I’m a massive sucker for Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. I just absolutely adore those films, but I’ve always considered “my” Batman to be the 1989 film with Michael Keaton. THE FLASH expands upon that world and drops us into a multiverse thread that doesn’t need the Caped Crusader anymore. I choose to believe that Batman has kicked so much ass and done so well that he’s practically made himself irrelevant. 

What I do wish is that we had more of a Flash-related villain. I understand why the writers (Christina Hodson and Joby Harold) were sandwiched in a big bad known mostly from Superman stories, but I would have loved to see a Flash-centric big bad introduced on the movie screen. The story’s core theme is that even superheroes can be their own worst enemy, literally and figuratively. When dealing with unresolved trauma, we’re constantly at war with ourselves. We know we need to move on, but we can’t let go.

I’m not sure if it’s really a running theme in films more often lately, or I’m just more sensitive to it, but the “dead mom” trope feels like it’s coming around a lot more often. For the uninitiated, I lost my mom in late 2021, and even as time goes on and I deal with the loss, I know I’ll never fully get over it. So anytime this type of story takes center stage in a film, I feel a lot of emotions. THE FLASH has a lot of heart here, but it stops short of tugging at our heartstrings too much – something I think GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 3 did do. It felt overcooked there, while here, it might be just a tad underdone. 

Outside of the bad special effects, my next biggest critique goes to some really corny fan-service moments. They’re sprinkled throughout the film, but they come in HOT in the last act. They’re almost too on the nose, so to speak, and they’re unnecessary. Some WB executives with fancy offices and fat paychecks thought it would be funny and cool to add them in. There is one from the trailer that you might cheer at. There’s another that’s quite touching, even though it crosses a CGI ethics barrier I’m not very comfortable with. That should have been enough. I didn’t need DC to rub my face in the massively huge treasure chest of celebrity cameos and quotable one-liners from their previous films. 

If you’re a fan of DC Extended Universe thus far, then you probably know it’s in a huge state of upheaval. Ben Affleck is out as Batman. Henry Cavill is out as Superman. Wonder Woman’s last film was bad, and her next has a new creative team. Aquaman’s still got a movie coming out later this year, and Shazam’s last outing was less than stellar. I doubt we’ll see Black Adam or Cyborg again in their previous iterations, if at all. James Gunn is in, and Zack Snyder is out, even if troves of internet trolls refuse to believe it. THE FLASH seems both a product of the “old guard” and a film with Gunn’s fingerprints all over it. It’s obvious there were reshoots, and it’s crystal clear that maybe some of the actors weren’t available for those reshoots. Did I mention bad CGI? I think I did. No one wants to see a bad CGI version of their favorite superhero, but THE FLASH had that, unfortunately. 

I hope Ezra is getting the help they need, and I very much hope their victims are too. I know the press has sensationalized their drama every step of the way, and we may never know the true truth. I think Ezra and Team Flash could be the future of the DC Extended Universe, especially with James Gunn as the leading creative force. But after all of it, maybe DC will recast Barry Allen/The Flash after all. And while it’s not nearly as important as the hopes I laid out above, I do supremely want the effects in this film to be on point when it gets released in about 3.5 weeks. Some of that terrible CGI is going to haunt my dreams. 

Story/acting/directing: 🤩. Effects: 🤮 Which lead me to my final rating. If they fix these effects in the next 24 days until the film’s wide release, I’d be willing to bump up my rating. The film mostly looks great. Dammit, bad CGI, I wish I could get you out of my mind.  

THE FLASH opens Friday, June 16th, exclusively in theatres, with some early IMAX screenings on June 12th. If you’ve got the budget, I recommend it in IMAX.

Jami Losurdo

When not writing film and tv reviews, Jami is expanding her collection of colorful sunglasses, lifting weights, and working her day job as a Digital Advertising Director. An alumnus of NYU Tisch for Film/TV, Jami made Los Angeles her home in the early 2000s and continues her quest to find the very BEST tacos of all time.

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